Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness

Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness
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Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll GOP set to release controversial Biden report Can Donald Trump maintain new momentum until this November? MORE is making a concerted effort to court young voters to his presidential campaign, particularly around the demonstrations that have taken place in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. 

Democrats say Biden still has a long way to go to win over millennials and Generation Z voters, many of whom were drawn to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board remembers Ginsburg: She 'will forever have two legacies' Two GOP governors urge Republicans to hold off on Supreme Court nominee Sanders knocks McConnell: He's going against Ginsburg's 'dying wishes' MORE (I-Vt.) and his calls for “Medicare for All” and tuition-free college during the Democratic primary.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll out late last month showed that a majority of voters ages 18 to 29 have an unfavorable opinion of Biden. 

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“We’re talking about 37 percent of the electorate. These are voters he needs to win,” said Sarah Audelo, the executive director of Alliance for Youth Action. “That’s why so many of us are trying to push him.”

To try to reach out to younger voters, Biden has launched League 46, a group of three “teams”: Students for Biden, Young Professionals for Biden and Young Elected Officials for Biden. 

Biden also this week launched an ad called “Progress” aimed at a diverse, young audience in which viewers hear remarks from a speech Biden delivered on systemic racism and police brutality along with video of the recent demonstrations protesting police brutality and systemic racism in the United States. 

“It will take more than talk. We’ve had talk before. We’ve had protests before,” Biden says in the remarks. “Let us vow to make this, at last, an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long overdue and concrete changes.”

“It’s going to take the work of a generation,” the former vice president says. “If we stand together, finally, as one America, we’ll rise stronger than we were before.”

Polls show Biden is extending his lead over President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE in national polls. A CNN poll released Monday found Biden with a 14-point lead over Trump, while a poll from The Hill-HarrisX found Biden with a 10-point lead.

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Biden has been bolstered by his performance with older voters, a demographic that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Democratic super PAC to hit Trump in battleground states over coronavirus deaths Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE lost to Trump in 2016. Biden has been breaking even with such voters or running ahead, normally a huge advantage since older people are historically more likely to vote than younger people.

That said, Biden and his team are seeking to do better with younger voters, and outside strategists say they are wise to do so.

Yet they also say it’s not enough for the vice president to simply slam Trump’s rhetoric. At a time of record high unemployment and the recent protests, he needs to show young voters what he will do to change the status quo. 

“He needs to make the case. It’s not just let everyone know when election day is and everything will be fine,” she Audelo.

Alexandra Acker-Lyons, a consultant who has served as the director of the Youth Engagement Fund at the Democracy Alliance and also led the Young Democrats of America, said Biden needs to reach out to people turned off by the political system, many of whom are younger voters.

“They have more work to do with appealing with unlikely voters and voters who are just trying to get by,” Acker-Lyons said, adding that many of these voters are struggling with student debt or have been recently laid off from a job.

“They have seen the political system crumble. There’s a reason they’re cynical,” she said. “It’s because the system hasn’t worked for them.”

Jamira Burley, an activist who served as national deputy millennial vote director during Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said that while Biden has made some inroads with young voters, she doesn’t believe there’s been a concerted effort to win over those “living in the margins.”

“Their voices, their issues are not being elevated,” Burley said. “They don’t believe he’s like Trump, but they think that this is going to be politics as usual.”

Audelo said young voters are skeptical of the rhetoric. 

Biden, for example, has spoken since the beginning about his campaign as a “return to normalcy.” But many young voters don’t want to go back to normal, she said. 

For some young voters, “normalcy is not good enough,” Audelo said. “What exactly is normalcy? What are we returning to, exactly?” 

She worries that Biden could be in trouble, especially with young voters who are on the fence about what they will do in November. 

“The question is, how many people will turn out?” Audelo said. “It’s truly about will they vote at all, not if they will vote for Donald Trump or Joe Biden.”

Burley said if Democrats want to win in November, the party has to start engaging with nontraditional organizations and make long-term investments in communities.

While she thinks Biden has “risen to the occasion and has shown us what a president looks like,” he has so far failed to articulate the “overarching vision of the world he wants to create.”

Trump, Burley said, shouldn’t be the narrative. 

“We already know how bad he is,” she said.